Ever wonder how some people make it all look so easy? On the surface, their businesses seem to run on cruise control — effortless even.

Looks can be deceiving. We’ve all seen a duck gliding effortlessly across a pond. They look graceful and peaceful, as if they have a motor attached, pushing them along. If you were to look below the water line however, you’d see that they are actually kicking like heck and expending quite a bit of energy.

So, when you see a business that is running on all cylinders, rest assured there is quite a bit of work going on in the background to make it look that way.

In a service industry like ours, it’s the staff that is the difference maker. They are on the front line dealing with the general public and are the face of our business, for better or worse.

So, how does one company produce smiling, well-groomed, attractive employees, while another produces just the opposite?

To begin with, it starts with our hiring practices. Do we subscribe to the old adage of “hiring the masses and firing the a$$es,” or do we conduct carefully mapped out, thoughtful interviews designed to reveal a candidate’s strengths as well as his or her weaknesses?

Are we matching the candidate to the position by asking probing, open-ended questions, or just hiring anyone that can fog up a mirror?

And once hired, are we throwing them to the wolves and putting them on the front lines right away, or are we taking them through an organized, two-part orientation process that includes a property tour that highlights what every new employee should know and how to navigate around the property safely?

Once oriented, are we putting them through a comprehensive training program and assigning them to a team leader to monitor their progress?

I often tell students in the Management Class that the most telling fact about their management skills is how their locations run when they’re not there, and that all comes back to how well their staff is trained and how engaged they are.

Making it all look effortless takes a lot of effort, as it turns out. Don’t believe me? Ask the duck.

Bob Fox has over 30 years of industry experience and is an instructor at CarWash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.

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